Friday Roundup: Obese babies, cancer vaccine, human hair fonts, and the grandeur of a dead tree

It’s Friday! Links to information for you to share with family, friends, children, and total strangers:

  • Babies on obesity path? Well, it’s questionable. Study says that babies who hit two growth markers before age 2 have increased risk of obesity. But only 12% of the 45,000 infants in the study who did hit the mark were obese by age 5. Two of my children have always been off the charts for growth. They are both quite slender. Researchers writing in an accompanying editorial expressed concern that using the “red flags” identified in the study may cause more harm than good.
  • Amber-encased mite A teeny mite captured along with its spider host when amber flooded them both 50 million years ago. Video below:



  • Logical fallacies: Do you like to argue? Are you invested in being right? Check yourself against these logical fallacies before you wreck yourself, online or in real life. 
  • There is grandeur, really: Want your children to see, investigate, and experience the world? Take them outside. Often. Go with them. Explore the tiniest and most intricate mysteries of nature together. A dead tree is a place to start. A beautiful post from Emily Finke.

  • Hairy typeface: Wanna gross out your kids? Or anyone, really? Show them this font made out of LEG HAIR (above). Artist Mayuko Kanazawa created the font as part of an art class assignment. Her work has already been featured in a Japanese ad campaign
  • Dogs evolved as our best friends: From NPR, how that large hairy carnivore living in your house came to be there.
  • Vax for breast/ovarian cancer? A small study, a vaccine that triggers an attack on tumor cells. Some women’s cancers stopped progressing, and one woman’s cancer vanished completely. These are patients for whom other therapies had already failed.
  • New BCPs tied to blood clots, again: The common culprit among these hormonal birth control methods is drospirenone. Hormonal birth control has always been known for increasing blood clot risks, but these versions seem to increase it even more. 
  • Three more elements added to periodic table: For chemistry and categorization junkies like my 10 year old, this is big, big news. You can visit the new elements–darmstadtium, roentgenium, and copernicium–at this interactive periodic table of elements.
  • Laughing kills pain: From Scicurious–Like a good long run, laughter may release the “natural high” chemicals known as endorphins. So, laugh loud and often.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Friday Roundup: 2011 top science lists, radium laced condoms, and the clitoris

A Double X Science grandma showed us this picture.
We thought it was the most ridiculously cute thing we’d seen all year.

As 2011 draws to a close, media outlets and science bloggers have busily collated their top-10 (or 12 or 20) lists of science-related cool/interesting/freaky/fantastic stuff this year. Here’s a selection that should keep you busy for about the first half of 2012:

Enjoy!


Health ‘n’ stuff

  • Do you know the clitoris? Not many people really do. Read this. It’s important information, not to mention mindblowingly cool.
  • Put the toilet seat lid down when you flush. Please.
  • Emily Willingham, Double X Science managing editor, is also an editor on a new book just out, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Consider buying a copy to leave in your pediatrician’s office or to donate to your local library.
  • Once upon a time, people made condoms that glowed in the dark, thanks to radium. Yikes.

Sciencey fun!

Friday Roundup: dissolving mice, preschooler paleontologist, evolution cake, and more 2011 retrospective

Burrunan dolphin, a new species discovered in 2011

Cool science and science ewwws

Health

  • Pertussis making comeback, possibly because of adjustments to the older vaccine in response to seizures

Fun

  • Evolution cake: the be-all and end-all of evolution in cake form.

And a video! 


Watch four-year-old Stella school a toymaker on misidentification of a dinosaur on packaging. Video:



Science education

More of the year in science

Friday roundup: Nature is beautiful, weird, terrifying, & gross, and vaccines are a social responsibility

Madagascar oxymoron: a new species of giant mouse lemur has been discovered by
a Malagasy-German research team. Credit: B. Randrianambinina.
Women in science
Nature is beautiful. Nature is weird. Nature is terrifying.
  • National Geographic has collected together its best “Photo of the Day” selections from 2012, and this one has stayed with me since I saw it earlier this year. Astonishing. 
  • Otters chase a butterfly. You may know that a group of crows is called a “murder.” But did you know that a group of otters is called a “lodge” or a “bevy”? (Warning: There is music).
  • Meat-eating plants are already the freaks of the plant world–why isn’t photosynthesis good enough for them? But now…here’s one that traps its victims underground.
  • What does a blood clot look like? You may not have realized how beautiful such a deadly little structure could be. This site is packed with similarly beautiful images of the unseen world inside us. 


  • Flowers are beautiful, most of us can agree. But did you know that they’re technically beautiful, as well? 
This is just gross

This is just stupid

Science education (much needed, it would seem)
  • Anatomy of a science fair project, part III. Great information for anyone considering entering a science fair.
  • Changing the nature of science education in the United States: Do we emphasize facts over understanding process and applying critical thinking? Um…yes. We do.
  • iPads for orangs. Or, as one punster on Facebook put it, “Got an old iPad lying around? Maybe there’s an ape for that!” 
  • When you’re a scientist, the mere act of eating pasta can lead to discovery. 
  • Climate vs weather: Do you know the difference? This video explains it oh so very clearly.


Health

  • Vaccinating children is a social responsibility, like driving on streets and not sidewalks, not stabbing people, and giving pedestrians the right of way at street crossings. When you choose not to do it, you endanger others (see “measles,” above). 
  • Can moderate red wine consumption cut breast cancer risk? This study found that red wine consumption altered hormone levels in the blood in a pattern that suggests it might halt the growth of cancer cells. Not anything definitive.
  • We’ve been reading a lot lately about these great ways to trick picky eaters into eating. We know from experience that some picky eaters are untrickable. This scimom tells us what one of the latest studies really means. 

Friday Roundup: Crabs and Lady Gaga, exploring Mars, female orgasm, gift lists, and more!

Find these great women-in-science ornaments here.


Women in science, women and science

Women and men and science
Weird and wonderful science


Yeti crabs, dancing to Lady Gaga. Yep, scientists know how to rock it OUT!




Can’t get enough of dancing crabs? More here

  • Wasps may remember your face, so next time you might get stung, be sure to wear a Nixon mask.
  • Ambien waking the near dead? It’s an unexpected outcome for a sleep drug.
  • Making viruses the natural way. Virus tinkering, Frankviruses, threatened global pandemics…or not?


Science brings the fun…and not just in the form of dancing crabs

Friday Roundup: Arsenic in juice, self-medicating chimps, science tattoos, Guinness Record-setting science cheerleaders, and more!



Are you getting regular mammograms on the recommended schedule?
Please be sure to monitor your breast health.
Health
  • Writing for Forbes, Susannah Breslin tells the story of “The business about my breasts,” chronicling her journey from mammogram to a diagnosis of breast cancer. You can follow her on Twitter here and read her blog here. Just another reason for you to ask not what science can do for you but what you can do for science
  • A UK study finds that homebirth in specifically low-risk women carries no increased risk for women who have had children previously. They assessed data for 64,538 women and found, after a whole lot of statistical adjustment, that there were no increased odds of negative outcomes for women having birth at home or midwife-attended births in facilities. They did find an increased risk for women who were trying to have planned home births who were giving birth for the first time.
  • Can eating baked or grilled fish three times a week be protective against Alzheimer’s in the elderly? These researchers think so
  • The FDA is thinking about lowering the standard it’s set for how much arsenic exposure is OK in apple and other juices. Cutoffs are usually set in what are known as “parts per billion” (ppb). That means what you think: if the cutoff is 3 ppb, that means, for example, three drops in a billion drops. Right now, the cutoff for arsenic in drinking water is 10 ppb, and consumer groups are asking the EPA to drop that to 3 ppb. Deborah Blum has addressed the fact that arsenic is present in food, water, and soil and that different forms of it have different effects. As always, it’s not as simple as hollering “toxic metal!” and calling for its removal. 
  • Can heading the ball in soccer/football cause brain damage?
  • Is a “Mediterranean-ish” diet good for your heart? Researchers draw that conclusion from this study of 2500 Manhattanites. 
  • Can dreams predict the future? No.
  • Would you want to see yourself old?


      Our Living World
      • Chimps self medicate with food. They really are our closest living relatives.
      • Speaking of being like us, some dinosaurs cared for their young, as this fossilized nest of 15 baby dinosaurs seems to suggest.
      • Looking for the animal with the most amazing, the strangest, the most remarkable nose around? Look no more. It’s the star-nosed mole:

      • Need a break from the workaday world? Listen to some whale songs and help scientists translate the language of whales.
      • Speaking of whales, scientists have sunk a 67-foot fin whale carcass off of the San Diego coast. Why go to the trouble? Whale fall is an important contribution to ocean ecosystems, and the researchers plan to study how an entire ecosystem builds up around the sunken cetacean. Here’s a video of the community that forms around a whale fall:

      Women and women in science
      • Nicole Ostrowsky shares her love of science in her book, An Agenda of an Apprentice Scientist. She also shares her love of science–and inspires it in others–as a teacher. As she notes, to teach science well to non-scientists, “You have to master subject to explain it simply.” 
      • Do you think you apologize too much
      • From the Science Cheerleader, a Guinness World Record Cheer for Science:

      • What do Marie Curie, theater, and Alan Alda have in common? Find out here as Alan Alda chats with Scientific American’s Jason Goldman. 
      • Do women lack ambition compared to men? No
      • Do science kits for girls really have to look like this? No, they do not, and one company has responded to complaints in the women-in-science blogosphere. 
      • Women are mean! Science says so! Some of us disagree.
      • Speaking of stereotypes about women and women in science, Wendy Lawrence writes about attracting girls to math and science and struggling against those stereotypes.
      • Here Come the Math Girls! In a day and age when girls are discouraged from being good at math by either being told they aren’t good or should not be, here is a refreshing book out of Japan.
      • And by way of Improbable Research: Moms on the Net: Intro to Computer Science 
      Sex


        Art and Science

        Friday Roundup


        [Image via Flickr, John Philip Green. Don't know if he's one of the mullets or not.]

        Friday Roundup: Jane Austen’s arsenic poisoning, breastfeeding and bones, dog bites that trigger pregnancy, and a cranky crab

        Jane Austen. Engraving via Wikimedia Commons, in the U.S. public domain.

        Curious about how climate has changed over the long term–the very, very long term? This video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts it all into perspective:


        • Jane Austen poisoned by arsenicA mystery author claims that all signs point to arsenic poisoning as the cause of Jane Austen’s death. The rationales that treatments with arsenic may have been fatal are plausible, but how about the idea that it was…murder?
        • Peanut butter recalled for Salmonella concerns, but no illnesses reported.
        • In other recall news, Kotex tampons also have been recalled for bacterial contamination. Please read.
        • You may have heard that when women spend a lot of time together, their cycles synchronize. You may have heard wrong, and Kate Clancy tells us why.
        • Birth control: Not just about sex. According to a report, many, many women use birth control for reasons having nothing to do with…birth control.
        • This just in: Girls can be engineers, too.
        • Chilling trauma patients to save them. Trauma surgeons may be turning to deep chilling their patients to stop their bleeding to death before livesaving surgery can be completed. 

        If you found the climate change video depressing, how about some astronauts falling down on the moon? Watching smart courageous people fall over is always entertaining, right?

        • Bones and breastfeeding fads. Would you consider giving your baby pap, “a mixture of flour or bread crumbs cooked in milk or water, or a bread broth called panada, or milk flavoured with spices, sugar, or eggs? These bones tell the story of breastfeeding practices before our time.
        • Ever wondered why smells–like baking cookies or a pinewood fire in the grate–are so evocative and memory stirring? Here’s why.
        • Perhaps you’ve heard about fecal transplants–they are exactly what they sound like–and thought, “Ewwww.” The thing is, they seem to work, but as Maryn McKenna writes, they are not easy to come by.
        • Rick Perry’s debate brain freeze: Parents, you know this happens to you, too, just not on national television. In a presidential debate.
        • In the downer category, orangutans in Indonesia killed by the hundreds every year.
        • Remember when ketchup became a vegetable in the Reagan years? Now Congress wants to add pizza sauce to that category. Someone should tell Congress that there are no do-overs on a healthy childhood.
        • For your “Weirdest News of the Day” reading: People in this village genuinely believe that a dog bite can trigger pregnancy–in men or women–with puppies. It is mass hysteria.
        • Have you been reading confusing and conflicting information about the HPV vaccineHere’s a piece that clears all of that up. 

        And finally, we give you this crab because it made us laugh. And laugh. Feel free to suggest captions.

        Friday Roundup: Land-walking octopus, he’s having a baby, defining veggies, & lots for the ladies

        Post-Thanksgiving links: All about food…or sorta food

        • You made it through Thanksgiving even though you ran out of vanilla extract? Let science help you out the next time you fall short of that one important ingredient. Scientists have compiled a list of suitable substitutes for cooks everywhere. 
        • Did you wake up this morning with fingers twice their normal size? Find out where the salt was in that Thanksgiving meal. 
        • Is pepper spray a vegetable? Oh, for the days when pizza sauce and ketchup were the only faux veggies. Here’s more on pepper spray from this week’s Double X Science blog of the week author, Deborah Blum. 

        Speaking of pepper spray, science answers your burning questions

        • Plants flirt, play hard to get, embrace. Yes, that said “plants.” 
        • He’s having a baby! Carin Bondar tells us all about the world of seahorse paternal birth.
        • Chilean desert coughs up fossil whale family, puzzles scientists. Tiny scientist, huge whale fossil at link
        • Oh, those mysterious cows. Why do they come home? More important, why do they (maybe) line up along the Earth’s magnetic field, and why do scientists argue about it?
        • Asking, “Are you improbable or inevitable?”, Robert Krulwich tells us that the math determines that we are improbable. But we’re here, so aren’t we…inevitable?
        • Have you read about “the gene” for ADHD or the “drinking gene”? Stop reading that bad writing! There’s a difference between a trait that a gene confers and the many, many ways someone can manifest that trait. Read more from David Dobbs over at Neuron Culture in “Enough with the ‘slut gene’ already: Behaviors ain’t traits.” 
        • Science: It’s not all glamour and heels. Here’s a day in the life of a scientist in Australia for those who are wondering what a scientist might do all day.
        • Speaking of how scientists might spend their days, how about spending them watching 400 YouTube videos of dogs chasing their tails? Via DiscoBlog at Discover Science.
        Geek o’rama
        • Use this app to follow live cameras trained on the wild places animals live in Sri Lanka, Kenya, the UK, and other places. When you spot an animal, identify it for science. Via GeekDad at Wired, Citizen science from Instant Wild! The featured Webcam as we posted these links had captured a porcupine in action. 
        • Maybe you’ve never been in a lab in your life and wouldn’t know PCR from a VCR. That doesn’t matter when you watch this video of stop-motion animation using thousands and thousands of the tiny tubes scientists use when they conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The video is actually a promotional video from vendors of equipment for this kind of lab test.

        • Conditions in Antarctica are almost unimaginable inhospitable for humans, yet scientists visit there yearly to conduct valuable research. Valuable, dangerous research, but the scenery? Stunning. Via BoingBoing. 


        Hey, ladies!

        • The brain is encased in a skull for protection, with a nice fluid surrounding it for extra cushioning. But the human brain was never meant to endure years of the Newtonian physical pounding that comes with playing football. Now, researchers are beginning a brain study to test the brains of 100 former National Football League players to see what harm has been done and how to identify it early. Watch the video below. Imagine the brains inside those skulls. Recall that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yikes.

        • Most parents find letting go difficult, whether it’s when their child leaves for a week-long school trip or takes off for college. Add an autism spectrum condition to the mix, and what you get is a heartbreaking but heartfelt connection between mother and son that they both find difficult to stretch. 
        • Have you banked cord blood? Here’s why cord blood banking may not have the payoff you expect
        • You’ve done it. We’ve done it. You walk from one room to another on a mission and when you get into the other room…you forget why you’re there. Now, instead of blaming age, you can blame the door
        • Look around: Do you a see a lot of stuff you just can’t bring yourself to throw away? Read this.
        • When it comes to sex–studies of it, studies of how it develops–males get a lot of the attention, and the female sex has even (gasp) been referred to as the “default” sex, as in, if there aren’t signals to become male, then females develop by default. That ain’t true, and as it turns out, females have a pathway dedicated to developing and maintaining them just as males do. So there, scientists. 
        • Is it hard for women to self promote? This one is about academe, but it applies across many work places.
        • Speaking of workplaces, apparently the women of Generation Y are still facing discrimination there [PDF]. 
        • People (in UK, at least) still think antibiotics work against colds. They don’t. 
        • You may have read about this person’s efforts to perform a butt injection on a woman using “Fix a Flat.” It’s probably best to just love your butt for what it is, which isn’t Fix a Flat.
        • In smarter news, NASA is rolling out Aspire 2 Inspire, targeting girls interested in science. Know a girl who’s interested in science? You can start with the Aspire 2 Inspire video below about women in science:

        “Yet more must be done to address the projected shortfall of 280,000 math and science teachers that our nation will face by 2015. We need public and private investments in math and science education and we need a commitment to making a difference on a national scale.”

        She couldn’t be more right. 

        Friday Roundup: Sex, math, sugar bombs, and vocal fry

        Via Wikimedia Commons. This is a picture of a whole lot of sugar.
        Women and men and science
        • Vocal fry: I (Emily) am a biologist. This phrase makes me think of tiny, loudmouthed fish. But it’s really about a vocal tic. Do you do this when you speak? It’s all the rage among young XXers these days.
        • Decaying hoods, premature birth: living in among dilapidated buildings linked to higher risk of premature childbirth. 
        • Do you know when you want it? Yes, that It
        • Women can do math. Yep, as well as men. Or maybe we should write that as, Men can do math. Yep, as well as women.
        • Male circumcision: the controversy continues. Does it or doesn’t it stem the transmission of AIDS?
        Cool, cute, crazy sci stuff

        Baby sloths.Cuuuute baby sloths.
        Science education

        Science and health